Maysa – Back 2 Love
This is Maysa‘s 12th album and her 8th for the Shanachie label, once again partly produced by Chris “Big Dog” Davis. There is a lot of drum and synth and keyboard programming here but it is her majestic voice that shines through all the tracks. The title track comes in two different versions – there is a club-friendly housier remix at the end of the disc.
Stokley Williams of Mint Condition is the special guest on “Keep It Movin'”, a solid R&B groover which has live drums! It is a bit puzzling that this needs extra mention here but actually a lot of the tracks seem overlayered with too many keys and synths. So it is no surprise that Maysa convinces most in the slower tunes here where her voice comes through clear and sublime, like in “Heavenly Voices”. This is a true gem. And a typical Maysa cut.
“J.R.” Hutson is responsible for the production of three songs. And here again, the slower “Smilin'” is much more effective and has an extremely catchy hook with cute background vocals and nice guitar touches from Joel Whitley. The other two tracks really didn’t do it for me. “The Radio Played Our Song” is so dreary that it almost hurts to hear her voice disappear behind an extremely dull composition (interesting to note that this is one of only three songs without any writing credit from Maysa).
The funky “Tear It Up Tear It Down” is a welcome change of pace here after another relatively unspectacular “Go Away Little Boy” (no not the Marlena Shaw classic). Maysa is back to her usual standard on “Unforgettable” which even though has also no backing from real instruments, has its moments simply because of the enjoyable soulful composition and because of her dulcet voice.
Another special guest on the album is label mate Phil Perry on a beautiful duet (“Last Chance For Love”) where both of them really gel on a dramatic ballad. Lorenzo Johnson produced “Beautiful Symphony”, another fair enough midtempo R&B track. I wouldn’t call the album “the best yet from the greatest Soul/Jazz singer of her generation” as written on the back cover simply because it is a pretty mixed offering but Maysa certainly ranks among the top of her ilk. And her voice is still amazing.